7 Best Practices to Overcome Mobile App Usability Issues
To make your mobile app user experience (UX) genuinely seamless, everything from onboarding to checkout needs to work correctly. Usability is a big part of mobile app development and plays a major role in creating user experiences that are efficient, pleasant to use, and enjoyable. Overlooking something as simple as navigation on a mobile app can impact the UX negatively, which will be the difference between a returning user and a deleted app. Put simply, if your app is useful and valuable to the user but requires a lot of time and effort, people won’t bother learning how to use it.
What is Mobile App Usability?
Many people confuse UX design with usability and vice versa. However, mobile app usability is an aspect of UX that plays into the overall relationship between user and product. UX defines all aspects of a user’s perception of a mobile app, including usability. Mobile app usability is concerned with the effectiveness, efficiency, and simplicity of achieving goals within the app.
Mobile app usability promotes learnability. A successful mobile app should be intuitive. It should take very little time for a user to achieve a certain degree of familiarity with the interface. If a user encounters an issue, a solution should be easily retrievable. Use onboarding to guide users through the mobile app to enhance usability, as well as recover from errors.
Mobile App Usability Requirements
Many factors contribute to a mobile app’s usability that will impact the overall efficiency and effectiveness in which a user completes their goal. A usable user interface should have three primary outcomes:
- Mobile app usability makes it easy for the user to become familiar with the UI
- It should be easy for users to achieve their goal when using the app
- Usable apps need to be error-free. If your app doesn’t work to begin with, the rest of your UX elements will not matter
In a world dominated by smartphones, finding a way to interact and engage with customers is becoming increasingly important. While the user interface is a crucial part of the UX, usability should always take precedence. If an app is aesthetically pleasing but difficult to use, the overall user perception of your app will be negative. Here are 7 mobile app usability issues that are often overlooked in mobile app development:
1. Platform Usability
A common frustration for mobile users is not having an app that works for their specific model of smartphone. Android and iOS, for example, are two drastically different platforms.
You can’t simply clone an iOS app for Android and vice versa. Each operating system adheres to entirely different programming, design, and interface considerations. For example, navigation for each platform differs dramatically. iOS, for one, doesn’t have a device “back” button like Android. For optimal mobile app usability, your app needs to incorporate a clear and consistent way to go back on every screen.
With that in mind, you should create your app to have a native feel so your users can interact intuitively. It’s a good idea to budget for this so you can optimize your app for the most common Android and iOS smartphones.
2. Provide Value Right Away
If you want new users to return to your app, you need to make sure that they discover the value early on, preferably during the onboarding process. If you don’t convince users to stay within the first week, you’re likely going to lose them forever. Millions of apps saturate the market, all of them competing for user attention, so it’s critical to make sure you offer immediate value.
Great user onboarding not only lowers abandonment rates, but can also help boost long-term success metrics like user retention and user lifetime value.
3. Simple Navigation
One of the main issues that users have when using mobile apps, particularity m-commerce ones, is poor navigation.
When a user first downloads your app, they need to clearly understand how to navigate to complete their goal, whether that’s booking an appointment, purchasing a product, or finding information. This means that your navigation should have as few barriers as possible. Many apps include unique features but struggle to fit them together in a way that makes sense for the user. The navigation should be comprehensible for the user so they won’t end up lost on a random page.
When focusing on usability, make sure that your products and/or services are extremely easy to find. The more complex it is for users to navigate the app, the higher the rate of user abandonment.
4. Clear & Concise Content
It’s common knowledge to simplify content when designing for mobile. However, you need just enough content that is essential to the user to complete a goal. This is particularly true for a buying process. Consumers still need complete information to make their purchase, and withholding basic information will result in a lower conversion rate. You should be tailoring your content for mobile, rather than copying it verbatim from the web. Including too much information in your mobile app will undoubtedly result in poor UX with frustrated users digging to find specific content. Make it as easy as possible for the user to consume your content with as little pinching and zooming as possible by presenting the information in a clear and concise way.
Recommended Reading: Mobile App Design Fundamentals: 10 Tips for an Effective Content Strategy
5. Minimize the Number of Steps
The fewer steps, pages, buttons, and fields to input data, the better. Every time your user needs to complete an action, check to see if there’s a simpler way that would make their experience more natural. Consider each action you require of your user as an added barrier. The fewer steps you include, the closer your users are to completing their goal.
Make sure they can store their billing and shipping information and then have it added automatically to their orders, without having to re-add it each time. Also, provide them with a visible edit button during the checkout process so they can quickly change their billing or shipping info.
For m-commerce or retail apps, in particular, checking out can be frustrating. You have to type in your address, email address, confirm that you selected the right product, etc.- all while using a small screen. One practical approach is to make it simple to create an account with a Facebook login. Designing your app with a convenient guest checkout option will also encourage users to make more purchases in less amount of time. Other notable features to consider during development are using an autofill and large checkout buttons. These design elements will amount to a seamless path-to-purchase and overall satisfaction with the UX.
6. Reduce Scrolling
Content prioritization also contributes significantly to the usability of an app. Users should get most – if not all – of the information they need to decide within the limits of their screen. Scrolling down is sometimes unavoidable and required in some instances, but side scrolling is something that should be avoided. If a user needs to scroll sideways, it typically hides valuable content.
7. Consider Landscape Orientation
When developing a mobile app, many people don’t consider landscape orientation as necessary. A good mobile app should be designed for both portrait and landscape to accommodate for optimal usability and UX, particularly for an app that contains video content.
User Testing & Feedback
The most important thing you can do to test usability is to use mobile A/B testing platforms. A/B testing allows you to compare two or more variations of a particular app design or layout. For instance, you can test the effectiveness of buttons and how they differ in driving conversions. Which design layout converts more users? Instead of guessing what users prefer in your mobile app, test to validate these assumptions. To improve mobile app usability, you cannot overlook testing.
A mobile app’s success hinges on just one main thing: how users perceive it. The usability contributes directly to how a user feels about your app- whether negative or positive- as they consider the ease of use, the perception of the value, utility, and efficiency of the overall experience. Usability is what will help convert users into loyal, long-term customers, in turn, generating more revenue for your app.